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The Peacock Feast

A medieval feast can seem a bit strange to modern sensibilities. Food is served in removes, which are miniature multi course meals in their own right and the choice of fare can often limit choice of supplier: unless of course you live in an area where the local Coles stocks porpoise and beaver. Then,  there is all of the ritual which could turn an intimate thirty dish meal shared with a few hundred of your closest friends into a full blown theatrical production.

Enter the Peacock.

The Peacock Feast

During the later middle ages there arose a tradition of taking vows during feasts, generally at the urging of the host. Feasts were the perfect venue for young, and young at heart knights to be urged to greater and greater deeds of glory. After all there were chivalrous companions to urge you on, beauteous ladies to impress and alcohol, which then as now, helps make the impossible seem quite achievable. These typically were not your typical New Year’s resolution type vow such as promising to drink less and exercise more, watching your diet etc. but full on deeds of valour such as holding ground against all comers in a joust at the low end, to liberating the Holy Land at the upper end of the scale.

The best time during a feast to take one of these vows; the chivalric ones that were likely to get you killed, was during the presentation of the subtlety. The presentation of the subtlety was the high point of the feast. As could be expected they were anything but subtle and could take the form of a rare and fantastic beast, a confectionary sailing ship or if your budget is slightly larger you build a castle wall out of roast poultry and garrison the towers with roast deer boar and goats!  The ‘four and twenty blackbirds baked into a pie’ was actually a thing though the birds were presumably inserted into the pie after it was baked. Once the pie was, very carefully, cut open the birds would fly out singing to the delight of the diners. Possibly because live blackbirds are not an approved food additive this tradition has sadly been in decline at dinner parties.

A more subtle subtlety was the presentation of a bird, such as a swan or peacock, which had been roasted and then its skin, which had been carefully removed and roasted separately was stitched back on; complete with feathers.  Prised for their majesty in the case of the swan or its display, in the case of the peacock they made perfect subtleties, especially given the relative scarcity of fresh unicorn.

The Peacock Vow

The first Vow of the Peacock was in fact fictional, a tale written in 1312 by Jacques de Longuyon which introduces the ideas of the Nine Worthies of Chivalry (more about which in a later blog) and more importantly for now the practise  of using the presentation of the subtlety to swear an oath. For the potential medieval hero, presentation of a magnificent subtlety at a feast was the perfect time to make outrageous vows as it had all of the necessary ingredients:

  1. Large gathering of your peers and superiors
  2. Chivalrous companions
  3. Lots of wine
  4. Ladies to impress
  5. Heralds, jongleurs and minstrels to immortalise your vow
  6. Lots of wine

De Longuyon’s poem struck a chord and life quickly took to imitating art and we know of several similar vows being undertaken at later feasts involving Audubon subtleties including vows taken on peacocks, swans, herons, pheasants and even a sparrowhawk. It seemed hardly was a bird out of the oven before some gallant had slapped a hand on it vowing loudly to do or die.

For our Feast of the Peacock, the magnificent subtlety will be in form of a large peacock cake displaying its plumage as it is served to the high table. Whilst it will not contain real peacock that does not mean you cannot make a heroic vow when you catch sight of it.  Just remember though, you will be held to your vow!

In case you are wondering peacock is overrated as a delicacy as it tastes much drier than swan, but if you think the time is right in your life to commit a vow, get your banquet tickets here.

Blog by Damien Fegan

Have Abbey Medieval Festival Package….will travel!

Hello readers,

It has been a while since I last posted on this page and I am currently working on the perfect excuse to contact you all again.  Today I’m going to give you a fantastic reason to visit Brisbane this winter.  Today I’m going to tell you all about the ‘Abbey Medieval Festival Travel Package’!

We had a lot of feed back last year that people found it hard to get to regional Brisbane festivals and in particular to our corner of the world for the Abbey Medieval Festival  Your travel arrangements were complicated and you found it difficult to find a place to stay……  simply put..you needed some help!  And yes we recognise while its wonderful to have a medieval festival like this with more than 37,000 visitors, the logistics involved for our visitors were challenging.

So this year, we have the perfect solution for you!

The Abbey Medieval Festival has teamed up with a number of partners to bring you ‘The Abbey Medieval Festival Package’.  Three clicks and your travel is sorted! This package is like a pilll to take away your travel pain!  Flights, accommodation, breakfast, transfers to and from the airport and transfers to and from the festival, all sorted!

Here’s how it works!

Simply click on the link below, complete the form and our awesome ‘Travel Experience Partner’ – Uplift Tours and Travel will contact you within twenty-four hours. (Usually sooner!)

You will see also that the landing page features our two Accommodation Partners.

We present the RendezVous Hotel and Suites and the Econolodge, both based in Brisbane CBD.  These properties are great value and have a great range of rooms and suites allocated for visitors to the Abbey Medieval Festival. Just pick your choice, and Uplift Tours and Travel will arrange the rest.

So this is a perfect solution for all those Abbey Medieval Festival visiting families and traveling groups out there to make life easier.  Give us your travelling challenges and we will make it happen for you!

We look forward to your feedback and we especially look forward to hearing about your travel experience – we know you are going to love this!

Watch out for our posts on Facebook and Twitter!

Abbey Medieval Festival Package

 

 

 

 

Food….preserving the body and soul!

I believe that there’s an inner ‘Foodie’ in most of us, and in reality,  food is linked to survival, a basic instinct.  Personally I’m really happy to see that nowadays food is starting to regain the rightful and honoured place it deserves in our lives.  It’s as much about giving our bodies required nourishment (and let’s not undervalue that) as being a secret ingredient in our social lives enabling us to communicate and connect.

If you have ever visited European countires, particularly Spain, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere,  we see openly how food is loudly lauded in the home and community.  And in our own lives, we all know TV cooking shows and celebrity chefs; we have food festivals and gastronomic holidays, we are award of the role food plays in our health,  we learn about slow food and organic food and as conscientious parents we try to make more time in our lives to give home-cooked food to our children.  So, I think it would be neglectful if we didn’t address the question about how our ancestors ate in the Medieval era of 600AD – 1600AD.  What did they eat? and how did they cook and …….I wonder what it tasted like?

Experience a taste of Medieval times at the Abbey Medieval Banquets Good news! For those attending the Medieval Banquets, you will have a fantastic opportunity to experience medieval food at it’s best.  The authenticity of the food available at the medieval banquet, right down to the medieval etiquette on show,  is indisputable and the ingredients and dishes on the menu are exactly as they would have been in that era.  You may be surprised to hear that basic staples of our daily diet today, such as potatoes and tomatoes had not yet reached Europe, so you can search but you won’t find them on the menu!

And outside of the noble classes, for a lot of people in the middle ages, having food meant survival.  And sadly, sometimes, people just didn’t.  A staple diet of the lower classes was ‘The Ploughman’s Lunch’, so it proves to us that a good dish lasts.  Meat was not available for many of the lower classes, untill ironically after the ‘Black Death’, which wiped out a third of the world’s population around about the 13C.

So, over the next few blog posts, I’m going to stay on the subject of food, so that you our readers can have a little ‘taste’ of what was available during the Middle Ages, and surprisingly is still available now.  This will be another opportunity for you to experience an additional dimension of preservation, which is at the heart of the Abbey Museum, in more ways than one!

Till next time.

Caroline

 

 

 

 

Connecting and reconnecting

Hello everyone,
Today in my blog post I want to talk about connecting with the special people in your life and how important those experiences and memories are to us.

I had a great week this week! I re-found two special people in my life that due to geography and being neglectful, I had lost connection with. It’s only afterwards that you realise how much you have missed out. And as soon as you hear that person’s voice again, the connection is instant and the time lapse dissappears. And thanks to Facebook and technology, we are in touch again. What a special feeling.

Very often people drop in and out of our lives and sometimes we are left wondering why this person appeared and disappeared. Sometimes, it takes a special occasion to nurture those people that mean so much to you but you don’t see that often.

You cannot wonder, then, why we are so happy here in the festival marketing team to learn that more and more of our visitors use the Abbey Medieval Festival  and the Kids’ Medieval Fun Day as their occasion to reconnect and spend time with the special people in their lives. Thank you to all of those fabulous ‘connectors’ who do a much better job than I do and proactively look after the special relationships in their lives.  We are so honoured that you are choosing the Abbey Medieval Festival as your  venue for reunion.  What a compliment!

And because we know how difficult it is to organise friends and relatives who are interstate, we wanted to try and help out!  Have you heard about our competition?

Just click here and complete your details and you are in the running for a great prize worth $3,000.  The prize consists of flights for a family of four from either Sydney or Melbourne, a car to get around, a week’s accommodation in the luxurious Novotel Twin Waters in the Sunshine Coast, VIP tickets for the Abbey Medieval Festival and to top it off – three more fantastic Queensland experiences – free family passes for Australia Zoo, Aussie World and Bellingham Maze.

This is our way of helping all those connectors out there because we know it takes a lot of time and effort to make these occasions happen.  So if you are in Queensland trying your best to get interstate family and friends together this July holidays, tell them about this competition!

Don’t miss out on those special memories and experiences.

Till next time, my friends,

Caroline